SOAS University of London

Department of Religions & Philosophies, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Shi Longdu

MA in Buddhist Studies (PIPBS, Uni. of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka) MA Religions (Buddhist Studies) (SOAS, Uni. of London)
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Mr Shi Longdu
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Thesis title:
Buddhism and the State in Medieval China: A Case Study of Three Persecutions of Buddhism in Chinese History, 446-845
Year of Study:
Second year
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PhD Research

The present research investigates the 446CE, 574CE, and 845CE persecutions of Buddhism in medieval China within the context of the Buddhism–state relationship.  In making endeavours to critically reexamine previous scholarhsip on these persecutions, this research contributes to the field by also considering new perspective such as the relevance of the social presence of Buddhism.

By investigating the Buddhism–state relationship through these persecutions, this thesis will challenge the stereotypical image of Buddhism as otherworldly and spiritual in China by focusing on social, economic and political perspectives. It hopes to reveal that to a considerable extent Buddhism exposed itself to the society and the people who were living in that society, thus overriding a solely “otherworldly” character.

Further, this study will not concentrate exclusively on the factors and reasons of these persecutions. Instead, Buddhism, as considered through these persecutions, will in a sense be put in the spotlight as a total social phenomenon — from the social elite to ordinary people, from secular aristocrats to monastic members, from its economic involvement to its political connections, from its religious engagement to its worldly pursuits. Using these persecutions as a lens, attempts will be made to provide a new picture of the social presence of Buddhism during the period under examination.

Lastly, in response to the debate regarding the course of Chinese Buddhism, that is, the Indianization of China (via Buddhism) or the Chinese transformation of (Indian) Buddhism, this thesis will take the approach of transformations within continuities.